Page images
PDF
EPUB

twain, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined to.. gether, let no man put alunder.

John the Baptist incuired the imputation of being posseffed with a devil, becaute he was a man of more auftere manners, and of a more sequestered mode of living ; because he“ came neither eating bread nor drinking wine." His divine Mafter, inore gentle in deportment, more affable, acceslible, and conde scending, because he mixed with fociety, because he " came eating and drinking," is by the self-fame perfons represented as "a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." Where there is a disposition to cenfure, no puri. ty nor prudence can escape. ' *Nothing can please the peevish children in the market place. If their fellows excite them to dance by the sound of the pipe, they are disposed to look grave and mourn : itibeir companions are in a serious mood, it is with them a time to dance. :. You cannot tell where to find them. It is not, at the same time, a mark of wisdom to brave the opinion of the world ; but wo be to that man whole cona duct has no better regulator than either popular opinion, or the decilions of a self-constituted censor. Christ has by example taught his disciples to seek, and to iake opportunities of being useful, whatever construction may be pet upon it by malignant observers,

“ The mother of Jelus was there," apparently, as one of the family, who took an interest in the credit of ber relations, and to alli ft in attending to the comfort and accommodation of the guefis ; for we find her watching over the expenditure of the provision, and devising the means of supply when it should fail. But Jesus and his dilciples were among the persons fpecially invited. As the aim of the Evangelift is simply to detail the circunstances relating to the miracle, every thing foreign to this is suppressed. This remark is applicable to the sacred writers in general. They present the leading object in its strongest features, leave it to make its native impreslion, and pals from it without exclaiming, without parade, without a commentary. On the other hand, where minuteness of de. Icription and enumeration is necessary or ot importance, all is examined with a microscopic eye, and beauties disclose themselves to closeness of investigation which the careless glance bad overlooked.

Whether the company had proved more numerous than was expected, or whether a provisori too scanty had been made, but in the middle of the banquet wine failed. Things which are in ihemselves, and as far as man is concerned, merely contingent, are predisposed and produced by a special in

terpofition terpofition of divine Providence, to fulfil some valuable pur. pofe. This little awkwardness of domestic arrangement turnilhed occasion for a grand display of almighty power. The .deficiency was observed by the mother of Jefus, who commu'nicated it to him as simply a remark of her own. But did not the communication partake of the nature of request, of expeciation, of suggestion ? " They have no winc: Is not this saying, can nothing be done to lave the credit of the family They will suffer in the eltination of their friends, as 100 parsi. anonious at a season of festivity like the present. Canst thou And no fupply ? There must, undoubtedly, have been something offensive in her meaning or mode of expression, for the meets with a reproof. And the mildest censure from such lips is a mark of displealure. As to Nathanael before, fo to Mary now he gives proof that he could read in the heart, what had not yet fallen from the tongue: "Jesus faith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.”'

Woman :" we are not to estimate the spirit and import of this ferm of address by the refinement of our modern ideas and manners. A British lemale of very middling rank would con'Gider herself as' very highly insulied to be thus abruptly accoft. ed by an equal, trom an interior it would be intolerable, and even in a superior it would be resented. But it was the appel. dation by which prices addressed themselves to ladies of the highest rank, and which even llaves employed in speaking to

their mitreffes, for'it marks refpe&t not familiarity. And we have a demonstration, in the present cale, that it could imply no hing harth or unkind, for it is Jefus who uses the word in speaking to his mother. On an occasion ftill more tender and interesting, when sovereign love was in iis triumph, and dictated every expreffion; when his cross was furrounded by fone of the persons who witnessed the miracle of Cana of Galilee; this converfation took place : "When Jesus, therefore, faw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved, he faith anto his mother, Woman," behold thy fon! Then faiih he to the disciple, behold thy mother! And from that hour that dif. ciple took her unto his own honie.' Here was the dying effufion of filiai affection : "Woman, behold thy son."

" What have I to do with thée.” This has an air of severity, and probably was intended to check encroachment. There is a point beyond which parental authority itselt must not presume to go. At the age of twelve, excess of maternal solicitude received a mild rebuke: “How is it that ye fought me ? wilt ye not that I must be about my Father's bufiness?” Nevertheless *he went down with them” from the temple, "and came to

Nazareth, Nazareth, and was subject unto them.” But to the man of thirty even a mother must not presume to di&tate, or so much as insinuate. The words of the original have by some been differently translated; and Jesus is made to fay, in reply to his mother's observation, “they have no wine," " What is that to

me and thee?” What does it concern us whether there be wine , or not? Such a question is little in the spirit of Christ, who took a condescending and an affectionate interest in all the in. firmities and distresses incident to humanity, and to whom nothing could be indifferent which tended to promote the comfort of others; and the sequel plainly shews, that he actually cherished those kind affections, and expressed them in a man. ner peculiar to himself. It is more natural to adopt our common version, confiftent as it is with the same sense of the phrase in a variety of other passages. : “ The devils coming out of the tombs exceeding fierce,” in the country of the Gergesenes, exclaim, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?” Meaning evidently; "We are afraid of thee ; let us alone; we desire no acquaintance with thee ; art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” The seventy interprę. ters translate the Hebrew idiom in the same phraseology and fpirit, in a great many passages. Thus Jephthah addressed the king of Ammon, " What haft thou to do with me?" saying plainly, "I wish no intercourse; we can have nothing in common; Wherefore should we go to war together ?”. And thus, not to multiply instances, David said to Abishai, when he proprosed to go over and, in cold blood, to cut off Shimei's head, “What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah?” “I like not your spirit; I want no such triumph; let God's will be done : you are taking his work out of his hand, and are deciding haftily when you ought to wait patiently." This is entire. ly in the spirit of the passage before us. “Woman, what have I to do with thee?" "Intrude not; prescribe not; I know what is fit for me to do; all my movements are already settled.” In this view all is of a piece ; all breathes the spirit of meeknels; there is the majesty of Deity, and there is the united firmness and mildness of the man, If there be any thing like sternness in the question,

What have I to do with thee ?” it is funk in.the folemn asseveration concerning himself: "mine hour is not yet come." The hour of a man's birth, of his baptism, of his majority, of his marriage, of his death, is an epoch of singular importance both to him. felt and others. We measure time, we know its value, and we trifle with it. With an experience of its necessary lapse, and with the certain knowledge that no moment can be relponfi

ble

[ocr errors]

1

ble for the debt of its predecessor, having enough to do with itself, the thoughtless sons of men will be drawing on a day which they are never to fee, and they sport with borrowed property as if it were their own. · The wile man, in the face of this reckoning of tolly and madness, states the just account of the expenditure and use of time : “ There is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.". But we look up to Him who is wiser than the wisest, that we may learn 10. mealure time, to understand the value of a day, and to improve the flying hour, which is gone before we are sensible that it has come.

"Mine hour is not yet come." It is an expression applied to various events of Chrift's life and ministry. When his unbelieving brethren urged him, by way of defiance, to go up to Jerusalem at the feast of tabernacles, and there make an open display of his miraculous powers, this was his reply : "My" time is not yet come-Go ye up unto this feast : I go not up unto this teaft; for my time is not yet full come ;" intimating that all his movements and operations were regulated to a moment, and therefore could neither be hurried forward nor. retarded. When he did go up to Jerusalem, and taught openly in the temple, though his plainress and fidelity gave much offence, it is remarked that “no man laid hands on him ; for his hour was not yet come :" that is, the hour of his apprehenfion, trial and condemnation. When the devout Greeks who had come to worship in the temple, desired an interview with him, Jesus said to his disciples ; "The hour is come that the Son of man fhould be glorified ;" meaning the dawn of the gospel day upon the gentile world. But while he rejoiced in spirit, as he contemplated that auspicious hour, he saw it lead. ing to another and a darker hour, the hour of suffering and * death. The profpe&t spreads a transient cloud over the lerenity of his mind, and he said: “ Now is my soul troubled : and what shall I say ? Father, lave me from this hour." Thus far the man of Ginless infirmity. But the cloud passes away, ferenity is restored and the hour of lorrow is lost in contemplating the glory that should follow, the accomplishment of his heavenly Father's purpose of mercy, in the redemption of a loft world : but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.” When his “ time was full come” that he Tould glorify God by his death, with heavenly composure“ "Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father the hour'is come ; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glority thee." Thus" every ftep of the Redeemer's progress was weighed, meafared,

established

clablished by an antecedent counsel incapable of being over thrown or of failing.

His mother, though reproved, is not wholly discouraged.. She perceives that whatsoever he did must be done at his own time and in his own way, and therefore enjoins the servants carefully to attend to whatever he should say unto them.

The ablutions, at this period, practised among the Jews, were carried to an abfurd and fuperftitious excess. The law had indeed prescribed certain washings, which nature herfelt points out as conducive to health, cleanliness and comfort; but tradition had multiplied these without end; they had acquired an authority paramount to that of law, and the primary duties of life were lunk in an affected attention to external purity. “The Pharisees,” says St. Mark; " and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash they eat not. And many other things there be which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.” This drew upon them a severe censure from the lips of Jesus Christ. He charges them with the vilest hypocrisy, in " teaching for doctrines, the commande ments of men.” • For," says he," laying aside the command. ment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups : and many other fuch like things ye do." "Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” He then produces; as an instance, their open and avowed violation of the fifth precept of the decalogue, engraven by nature on the heart of man, and proclaimed from Sinai by the mouth of God. The unnatural child had but by a vow to devote his substance to a pretendedly sacred purpose, in order to be for ever released from all obligation to asliit aged or decayed parents. Thus a pun&tilious attention' to washing the body could be reconciled to a deliberate purpose of hardening the heart. These copious and frequent ablutions account for the large provision of water made for the marriage feat. “ There were set fix wärer.pots of stone, after the manner of the purilying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.” To pretend to ascertain the quantity, by the names of ancient measurement, would be nugatory and absurd. If the thing could be done, what profit would arise from it? It is not well known that all the wildom of the British legisla. ture, though frequentiỳ exerted, has hitherto been unable to establish a standard of weights and measures for the southern division of his little island ? The precise quantity is left in intentional obícurity, by the use of the indefinite expreflion two

« PreviousContinue »